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Ten Days at Burg fürsteneck

Around sixty students of German school grades seven to nine can follow their (specific) learning interests at Burg Fürsteneck, located between Fulda and Bad Hersfeld in Germany. They come together for ten days during school holidays to participate in an extracurricular educational program. This includes various activities such as sports and leisure in addition to the majors and electives in different subject areas.

At an open day the students present their results allowing parents and guests to get an impression of everyday life at the academy.

The Hessian Student Academy has been held since 2004 and is supported by the Beilstein-Institut since 2011. Until 2010, the event was aimed exclusively at students and high school students. In 2011, the offer was extended by a Student Academy for Middle Schools.

The 8th Hessian Student Academy for Middle Schools took place from June, 24th June to July, 3rd 2018. Five main courses in the fields of biology, chemistry, mathematics, art and culture and physics were offered. Moreover, the participants could choose two elective courses, e.g., visual arts: stencil art, take part in a choir group, humanities: debating, music: of lions and pirates – chamber music, and sports and exercises: how time is moving us – how we move time.

young researchers and creative minds

Guest afternoon of the 8th Hessian Student Academy for Middle Schools


For the eighth time since its foundation in 2011, the Hessian Student Academy for Middle Schools took place at Burg Fürsteneck in Eiterfeld. The academy is financially supported by the Hessian Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the Beilstein-Institut. And for the eighth time, the approximately 60 students of German school grades seven to nine presented the results of their work to their relatives. From the five main courses in natural sciences (biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics) and art and culture, the students had chosen one and delved into the challenging topics.

In the biology course the participants joined a digital expedition into the animal kingdom. In the footsteps of Heinz Sielmann, they explored the different ways of life and behavior of animals living around Burg Fürsteneck. They used tablets and biology excursion material and summed up their results in self-produced videos. The highlight of the course was to present the films, posters and pictures to the parents. The chemistry course dealt with chemistry in everyday life. As crude oil is a basic raw material that can e.g. be found in lubricants and fuels, paints, plastics, cosmetics and medicines, the students distilled it and learned about its ingredients. Another major topic in this course was the origin, causation, effect and reduction of greenhouse gases. In the physics course, the students focused on the problem of controlling a robotic arm in all three dimensions. The arm got trained to pick up objects and to play melodies on a xylophone. To do so, trigonometric work was necessary. The students understood and programmed motion sequences by analyzing angle determinations, conversions and movements in the coordinate system. The mathematics course dealt with an everyday problem: trust and its development. This psychological problem can be grasped mathematically with the help of game theory ¬ and even so well that the game (and profit) principle of the rock-paper-scissors game quickly becomes clear and comprehensible.

However, game theory also attempts to capture other behaviors, in particular the pursuit of personal advantage in bidding competitions. However, we humans often behave mathematically "illogical" and to our own advantage. Why? This question was addressed, too.

In the art and culture course, the participants experienced to perform personal conditions and abstract situations, for example, in states. With installations, dance, theater, pictures and dialogues, the students dealt with new kinds of expressions.

The elective courses offered a mental balance to the main courses. The students could choose between two elective courses, e.g., visual arts: stencil art, take part in a choir group, humanities: debating, music: of lions and pirates – chamber music, and sports and exercises: how time is moving us – how we move time. In the choir and chamber music classes, the girls and boys quickly came together to sounding ensembles; in the unpredictable range of voices and instruments this was not an easy task, which placed great demands on the repertoire. In the debating "club" the participants tested themselves in rhetorically polished arguments in speech and counter-speech, in the use of powerful arguments and spontaneous counterarguments. How do I present myself when I speak, where do I look and how do I involve my audience? These were questions that were successfully answered and implemented. Stencil art is – very briefly – graffiti with stencils and spray cans, but is also a sub-genre of street art that has spawned many famous artists. However, no sweat no glory and thus, participants learned not only the correct position of the spray can relative to the surface (here paper), but also the selection of objects and the production of stencils.

Overall, the students turned out to be curious, young researchers with creative minds, to whom the instructors were often struggling to set limits. A compliment to the organizers and the participants!


The Hessian Student Academy is funded by:

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